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CER Study Finds No Observable Difference Between Generic and Branded Statins in Preventing Cardiovascular Events

Branded Statins Associated With 30 Percent Higher Cost Overall

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun 4, 2012 - People taking the most commonly used generic and branded statins to control their cholesterol had similar observable rates of cardiovascular events, but their total treatment costs were as much as 30 percent higher with branded drugs, according to comparative effectiveness research presented today at the 17th Annual International Meeting of the International Society of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research.

This is one of the first, large-scale, real-world studies comparing the most commonly used branded and generic statins. Real-world data—in the form of analysis of healthcare claims data –can supplement clinical trial data and assist in understanding the effectiveness of these drugs as they are used along with other drugs and medical products outside of a clinical trial setting.

The CER study, conducted by health benefits company WellPoint, Inc., and its outcomes research subsidiary, HealthCore, Inc., used medical and pharmacy claims data from geographically diverse affiliated health plans in the United States.

“We found that people treated with branded statins and generic statins were observed to have similar lowering of the rate of cardiovascular events,” said Jeff White, WellPoint director of drug evaluation. “We saw comparable medical costs to treat members on both branded and generic products. In total cost-of-care analyses covering a three-year period, branded products were more expensive because they are typically priced higher than generics, even though their associated medical costs were similar.”

Medical costs included hospitalization, emergency room services, long-term care, physician visits, laboratory tests and all others costs covered by the member's benefit, excluding pharmacy costs. Total costs included medical and pharmacy costs.

“As a company, WellPoint's goal is to find ways to help ensure members of our affiliated health plans receive quality health care while maintaining the affordability of health care,” said Dr. Alan Rosenberg, WellPoint vice president of medical and pharmacy policy. “This research is just one example of our efforts to find ways to achieve this goal.”

The study used data based on members who had at least one pharmacy claim for atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, simvastatin, simvastatin/ezetimibe, pravastatin, or lovastatin during the period between Jan. 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2008. Members were followed for three years. A total of 31,224 members were included, with 25,055 identified as primary prevention for those at risk of cardiovascular disease and 6,159 identified as secondary prevention for those who had a previous claim indicating a prior cardiovascular event. The study used statistical analysis to control for factors that may impact the results, such as age, sex, geographic region, member copayments and disease severity.

“The results were generally the same whether patients were taking statins to prevent a first heart attack or other cardiovascular event or whether they took them after experiencing a heart attack,” said White. “As with most observational analyses, this study shows associations rather than cause and effect.”

The study was conducted by Jennifer Wang, PharmD, Jeff White, PharmD, MS, Vicki Fisher, PharmD, MS, Andrea DeVries, PhD, Brian McNeely, PhD, RPh, and Jacob Abarca, PharmD, MS.

About WellPoint, Inc.

At WellPoint, we believe there is an important connection between our members' health and well-being—and the value we bring our customers and shareholders. So each day we work to improve the health of our members and their communities. And, we can make a real difference since we have nearly 34 million people in our branded health plans, and more than 62 million people served through our subsidiaries. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In a majority of these service areas, WellPoint's plans do business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New York service areas). WellPoint also serves customers throughout the country as UniCare and in certain California, Arizona and Nevada markets through our CareMore subsidiary. Additional information about WellPoint is available at


Contact: WellPoint, Inc.
Lori McLaughlin, 317.488.6898
Mobile: 317.407.7403


Posted: June 2012